Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 23, 1967

The "Campaigns Violate New Testament Teaching

Roy E. Cogdill

"Shortly before the turn of the present century, a movement originated in the church of Christ that resulted in what is commonly known as the Christian Church. The idea is quite generally wide-spread that the cause of this schism and resultant division was instrumental music in the worship and societies in the work of the church. Technically speaking this is incorrect. True, these were major differences between those who adhered to the original pattern of things and those who went out from us: yet instrumental music and the societies were effects rather than causes.

"Dr. A.W. Fortune, some time professor of the College of the Bible, and "Pastor" of the "Central Christian Church," of Lexington, Kentucky, in his book, "The Disciples in Kentucky," sets forth as grounds for the division, the following: "The controversies through which the Disciples have passed from the beginning to the present time have been the result of two different interpretations of their mission. There have been those who believed it is the spirit of the New Testament church that should be restored and in our method of working the church must adapt to changing conditions. There have been those who regarded the New Testament church as a fixed pattern for all time, and our business is to hold rigidly to that pattern regardless of consequences. Because of these two attitudes, conflicts were inevitable" (Page 383).

"This, we believe, is a fair and impartial statement of the divergence of views that obtained then, and are now characteristic of the two groups. Because of these differences in attitude, it was, as Dr. Fortune suggests, inevitable that division should come; and it came shortly before the turn of the present century. Those who had worked and worshipped together in the effort to plant again the Cause of Primitive Christianity in a land torn by division and cursed by denominationalism, divided among themselves, and the result was that another denomination came into existence. Ironically enough, those whose avowed mission in life was the utter destruction of all denominationalism, became but another denomination, and thus built again the things they had once destroyed! Today, the Christian Church admits its denominational status, and glories in the fact!

"Instrumental music and the societies were simply symptoms of the disease that lurked unseen; outward manifestations of an inward attitude wholly foreign to that which had characterized the restoration movement in its inception. The real cause of division in the body of Christ was therefore, an abandonment of the principle that had hitherto motivated us. Those who no longer looked upon the New Testament as an all-sufficient guide and rule of faith and practice to demand things unauthorized therein; while those who clung tenaciously to the all-sufficiency of the scriptures, as stoutly resisted them; and division was, therefore inevitable. This, indeed, has been the cause of all departures since the apostolic age. Those who regard the Bible as a complete revelation for all time cannot, in conscience add to, or take from, its teaching, in the smallest particular; while those who view it only as a mass of raw principles to be worked into shape to fit changing conditions, are not restrained by the injunctions it contains against adding to or taking from the Word."

It is scarcely believable that the above statements were written by Guy N. Woods, Gospel Advocate writer and chief exponent and defender of the liberal movements in the church today. It is even more unbelievable that he would have the unmitigated gall to vow and declare that he has not changed since he wrote these words. But it is easy to see that his diagnosis of the causes of digression that brought about the "Christian Church" is entirely correct. It is also easy to see that the same causes are at work today and have brought about the present day divisions among the churches of Christ.

The Herald of Truth, the inter-congregational evangelistic co-operations that have been formed, the benevolent societies, educational societies, hospital societies, recreational and social activities in which churches are engaging, et cetera, are not the real causes of division and disfellowship. Rather they are "symptoms of the disease that lurked unseen." As brother Woods put it, they are, "Outward manifestations of an inward attitude wholly foreign to that which had characterized the Restoration movement in its inception." We accept his diagnosis of the case completely. It has been confirmed by other champions of the liberal movement. A. C. Pullias thinks all of these modern innovations are permissible because "there is no pattern". He has even written a tract on that subject. Gus Nichols, deluded and confused by the flattery of the college crowd, has abandoned his defense of truth and writes and talks profusely of the "liberty" that we have to apply these principles laid down in the New Testament because God has not told us how to apply them! Volumes could be quoted of such nature.

The idea that God has told us what to do and has not told us how to do it has been the defense of their benevolent societies and is now the ground upon which their missionary societies are being promoted. It has been pointed out to these "liberal-minded brethren" that if their contention applies to benevolent societies and justifies them it would also equally apply to and justify a missionary society. They have at least been convinced on this point and are now forming their missionary organizations without scruple even when they know that there is no authority in the Word of God authorizing them. You would think that these fellows are completely ignorant that God gave to His Church an organization through which to function and that organization is a specific one to which men have neither the right to add or diminish. These fellows, most of them at least, a few years ago joined with all of us in preaching that the local church with its (local) elders, deacons, and saints is the one and only organization that is divine in its origin or authority. We have made it ring throughout the land that "there is nothing larger - nothing smaller - nothing other than the local church. No other organization either within or without!" No voice has been stronger in shouting this than Foy E. Wallace, Jr., but no one has more completely succumbed to the flattery, banqueting, and patronage of the liberal crowd than has he. It does not matter what they have written or preached, nor what the Word of the Lord says, they are going to do their promoting and will destroy, if they can, anything or anybody that gets in their way.

More recent and now more prominent among "missionary society" organizations and promotions among these "modern digressives" that are emerging into another denomination just like the Christian Church did more than fifty years ago is the "Campaign for Christ" movement. Several competing organizations of this movement are among us but they are all practically following the same course. Whatever organization is essential or even deemed expedient in the promotion of their "campaigns" they "scruple not" to form. The most prominent among these liberal present day promoters is the "25th and Geraldine Church of Christ" in Oklahoma City. They are now promoting "campaigns" all over the world and soliciting money from any and every source available. Their propaganda is scattered throughout the country and they are holding their promotional banquets at the "lectureships" of the liberal schools and elsewhere. Ivan Stewart promoted this church into this unscriptural position and organization. He heads up their promotion and organization. They advertise themselves as the "Heart of the Brotherhood". It would be interesting to see brother Stewart with enough courage to undertake a defense of his promotion. And if he is too timid, it would be interesting to see the 25th and Geraldine Church have enough courage to secure someone who has enough courage to do so. There is no scriptural defense for it and it is pretty evident that they know it.

We suggest some very plain scriptural reasons why such an arrangement is completely out of harmony with the teaching and spirit of the New Testament. We do not hope that any of the reasons anyone might give would have any appeal to those who think they have the liberty to supply what the Bible does not teach. They have no respect for "scriptural reasons" or Bible authority anyhow. But to those who still have some respect for the Word of God and have not become the servants of human idols we trust that the following points will be carefully considered and have some weight.

I. The New Testament does not teach that one church of Christ should, could, or ever did send money to another church to support a preacher. You will search the New Testament in vain for such teaching. It is not there, generically, specifically, or liberally! It cannot be found incorporated or provided in command, example or inference! It is wholly without scriptural warrant. The preachers of New Testament times went out and were sent out by churches but when they were supported those churches sent directly to the preacher and never to another church to support a preacher. (Phil.1:5; 2:25; 4:15-17; II Cor. 11:7-9) This cannot be disputed or denied by the Word of God. We challenge any of these present day promoters to try!

One argues what difference does it make whether a church sent to a preacher directly or to a church to support the preacher? The difference is that one is in the New Testament and the other is not in it. This doesn't make any difference to those who have no respect for the Word of God but it makes a lot of difference to those who do.

But another suggests that when a church had more destitute members than it could provide for other churches contributed to them to enable them to meet the needs of their destitute. True! But that is in the field of benevolence and not in the field of evangelism. But, someone objects, that means that there are two patterns - one for benevolence and the other for evangelism. Well, why not? If that is the way God arranged it, why not? Even the liberal promoters among us - or they were among us, but "they have gone out from us because they were not of us" (I John 2:18-19) - have two patterns so this objection from them certainly is not valid. They incorporate into a separate society or organization their works of benevolence but they will not incorporate (at least they have not yet) their inter-congregational promotions in the field of evangelism such as "campaigns for Christ" or "Herald of Truth". Why, if there are not two patterns?

The difference between the two can plainly be seen. Each congregation had the direct obligation of providing for its own. When it could not do so out of its own resources, other congregations could contribute to its necessity. But no congregation has the obligation to preach the Gospel beyond its own resources, nor can it do so scripturally.

II. These "Campaigns for Christ" are inter-congregational arrangements and therefore necessitate an organization larger than a local church. God gave the elders of a local church the supervision of its affairs. They are to "tend the flock of God among them" (I Peter 5:2) and this is the extent of their oversight. They are to "feed the flock and take heed" to the flock over which they have been made bishops or overseers. (Acts 20:28) This is the extent of their authority or Jurisdiction. When they act beyond it they are acting "ultra vires" - without authority. The work of more than one church cannot be combined and resources pooled without having an "inter-church" affair and no such arrangement can scripturally be put under the supervision of a "local eldership".

III. When one church holds a meeting - campaign - for another church and promotes its activity in such an endeavor out of resources provided by still other churches the autonomy (self-government or control) of the churches involved is destroyed. Here you have one eldership overseeing and actually directing the work of another congregation in arranging for such a meeting, selecting the speaker, singer, auditorium, etc., or in arranging the advertising, directing the "personal work" of the campaign, or in other phases of its activity. When we can get "self-government" out of this, we are really doing some crooked thinking. Whether it is usurped or voluntarily given would not make a whit of difference scripturally.

IV. Such a campaign ties churches together and therefore destroys their independence. Every church historian of any repute tells us that the apostasy of the New Testament churches was well under way when they began to ignore the independence of the local churches. Federating local churches into any kind of an effort, pooling their resources, centralizing the direction of their work in any aspect forms a connecting (organic) tie between churches that does not exist and is not allowed by the divine plan. It destroys the identity of the participating churches and denominationalizes them. Conventions and associations are in order in such arrangements and are in principle accepted and practiced. They can well be for if God intended for there to be organic or operational combinations then He should have given us an organization larger than the local church so that it would not have to be perverted into such a functional capacity.

V. Such an arrangement as these "campaigns for Christ" destroys the equality of the churches and of their elderships. Think about the elders of the 25th and Geraldine Church in Oklahoma City directing the arrangements for a gospel meeting in Philadelphia, California, Hawaii, or anywhere elsewhere churches of Christ exist. A church of Christ and its elders holding a meeting for another church of Christ and its elders I How could equality exist in such an arrangement? The church in Jerusalem sent a preacher by name of Barnabas to Antioch when the church had just been planted there and they supported him. (Acts 11) But where do you read that they supervised and arranged all of the appointments, place of meeting, advertising, personal work campaign, etc.? There is a vast deal of difference in sending a preacher and supporting him to work for a weak church and taking over the supervision of its affairs. My brethren have always been able to see such a difference until their idolatrous promotions blinded them to the truth. Neither did Jerusalem promote other churches out of their funds in order to send Barnabas.

VI. Such an arrangement denies the sufficiency of God's organization to accomplish its mission. It impeaches the wisdom of God, Almighty and All wise, and delivers into the hands of men the right to modify, alter, seek to improve upon and otherwise set aside God's plan. If we can change God's plan for the church in seeking to improve on it, why can't we improve upon God's plan for the salvation of souls. Some think they can and these campaign promoters will come around to it.

Without equivocation or apology we charge that such "campaigns" are unscriptural and subversive to the simplicity of the gospel. They are liberalistic, and modernistic and denominational in their nature. They cannot be defended by the scriptures.